The Lernier Family
© 2011 Russ Nielsen
All Rights Reserved




Chapter 8: Twins

The rest of our trip home was wonderful!   After our night at the Inn on the Lake, we made our way south through Pennsylvania and Maryland.   We arrived in Alexandria just before dinnertime.   I had called ahead to let Mrs. Campbell know when we would arrive so she wouldn't be surprised when we walked in the door.

Keith and Kerry had returned home ahead of us.   They had stayed for my Grandma's funeral and had left immediately after the services were over because Keith had a job interview and needed to be back in time to make his appointment.

Rick and I share the driving duties on long trips but I prefer to let Rick drive.   He makes me nervous when I drive because he is always trying to tell me how to drive the car!   We get along much, much better when he drives!   So that is why Rick drove us most of the way home from New York.  

We turned off of Seminary Road onto the Campbell's street.   Rick pulled into the driveway and turned off the engine.   Before we could open the car doors, Egan, who had been watching out the front room window, rushed out the front door of his house and made his way over to the car.  

I turned to look at Rick and laughed, "Rick, I think someone missed us."

"I think you're right," Rick replied smiling at me as he leaned over and kissed me. "Welcome home, Babe."

We both opened our doors and got out.   Egan threw himself into my arms as I knelt down to greet him.

"Hey, little buddy!   How are you?   Did you miss us?" I asked already knowing the answer.

Egan said, "Yes, I missed both you and Rick.   Mommy said you were going to get here in 15 minutes so I watched out the window until I saw you pull in the driveway."

I picked Egan up and carried him around the car to Rick.   He held out his arms to Rick who took him from me.

"Hello, Egan," Rick said as Egan wrapped his arms around Rick's neck.

Egan said seriously, "I missed you Rick.   Are you going to stay home now?   I didn't have anyone to play with while you and Glenn were away."

"Yes, Glenn and I are going to be staying home for a while now.   We need to find a new house to live in and new jobs," Rick said smiling at our favorite little guy.

Egan looked puzzled, "Why do you need a new job?   Don't you have a job already?"

Rick looked surprised, "What job do I have, Egan?"

Egan looked totally like a professor lecturing his class, "Daddy said your job is making Glenn happy?"

Rick laughed, "Your right, Egan.   My job is to make Glenn happy.   Maybe you should ask Glenn if I'm doing a good job."

I smiled as Egan turned his head to look at me, "Is Rick doing a good job, Glenn?"

I put my arms around Rick's waist hugging him and Egan at the same time, "Rick is doing a great job but you know he needs some help from someone named Egan.   Do you think you could help Rick make me happy?"

Egan giggled, "Yes.   What do I have to do?"

"Play games with me and read stories to me," I said.

Egan looked at me with big eyes, "But that's your job!   You are supposed to play games with me and read books to me not the other way around!"

"What if we do those things together?   Would that be okay with you?" I asked smiling at the little guy sandwiched between me and Rick.

Egan nodded his head, "Yes as long as you and Rick help me learn to read."

Rick said, "You've got a deal, Egan."

I released Rick and he put Egan down.   "Egan, do you think you could help us get our stuff out to the car?" I asked.

"Yes, I'm getting big and strong now that I'm a big brother.   I can carry Diane's diaper bag for Mommy," Egan said flexing his muscles.   "See how big my muscles are getting!"

I leaned over and looked at his biceps, "You're right, Egan.   Your muscles are getting bigger."

Rick pulled our bags out of the car and piled them on the driveway.   Egan started sorting through them until he found one he could lift.   "I'll carry this one," Egan said looking at us.

Rick smiled, "Okay, we will get the rest."

We gathered up our stuff and made our way towards the house.  Mrs. Campbell opened the door as we approached, "Welcome home, boys!"

"Thank you, Mrs. Campbell.   How's the General?" Rick asked smiling at down at Mrs. Campbell.

"He's fine.   He's missed you boys.   He really enjoys talking to you two," Mrs. Campbell said with a smile.

She held the door open for us.   As we started up the stairs to our room, we heard Mrs. Campbell yelling to the General, "The boys are home, dear!"

We had just finished putting away our things with Egan's help when we heard a knock on the door.   Egan rushed to the door and opened, "Hello, General."

"Hello, Egan.   Do want to ride with me today?" asked the General with a grin.   He knew what little boys love to do.

Egan nodded his head vigorously, "Yes, I would love to ride with you."

"Are the boys in?" the General asked Egan.

Egan responded, "Yes, General, they are in and we just finished putting away their things.   My mommy says we must always put our things away when we're done playing with them so I helped Rick and Glenn put away their clothes and their suitcases."

"Egan, you have a very wise mommy.   I'm glad you're listening to her and then teaching others to do the same," the General said nodding his head sagely.  

"Yes, mommy says I can be the best big brother by helping Diane to learn to put her things away when she gets older," Egan continued as the General moved his wheelchair into the room.

Rick said, "Hello, General.   It's good to see you."

"It's good to been seen!   How are you Glenn?" the General asked.

"I'm great," I responded as Rick put his arm around me.

"How was your honeymoon?   Did Rick take good care of you?" the General asked smiling and winking at me.

"Our honeymoon was very good, General.  We had a wonderful time.   Yes, Rick took great care of me," I said smiling up at Rick.  

The General laughed, "Great job, Rick!   I knew that you would pull through!"

Rick laughed with the General, "Yes, I made Glenn very happy."

The General said, "I can tell.   Glenn is practically walking on air.   Mrs. Campbell was right when she told me you two were madly in love with each other."

"Yes, Mrs. Campbell is very correct that we are very much in love," I said smiling at Rick.   Rick pulled me even closer to him and leaned over and gave me a quick kiss on the lips.

The General said, "I'm glad you're back.   I've missed the company.   Mrs. Campbell does her best to keep me entertained but it's not same as having you two here.   How would you guys like to go with me to Fort Belvoir tomorrow?"

"Sure," Rick responded.   "What are we going to do on base?"

"I have a sailboat there at the marina.   I thought we could go out on the Potomac River.   I used to do a lot of boating but since I lost the use of my legs I've haven't been able to go out as often as I'd like," the General said, frustration showing in his voice at any obstacle that prevented him from doing what he was accustomed to doing.

"How do you get in and out of the boat," I asked.

"I asked them to build me a special ramp so I could get to the boat.   I usually call ahead so that there are a couple of strong, able-bodied soldiers there waiting for me when I want to go boating," the General responded.   "Mrs. Campbell loves going down the Potomac to the Chesapeake Bay.   There are several places we like to visit along the way."

"That's sound like a lot of fun," I said.

Egan chimed in hopefully, "Can I go with you?"

The General smiled at Egan's eager face, "Yes, if your parents give you permission to come.   In fact, I think that we should invite them to go along.   It's supposed to be a nice day tomorrow and I think we'd all enjoy a day on the boat.   Come with me Egan and we'll go see what Mrs. Campbell thinks of our idea."

Egan climbed up on the General's lap and the General wheeled his chair out of the door and sped along the hallway with Egan laughing as they went.

We followed them to the elevator and joined them for the ride down.   Mrs. Campbell saw us coming, "I'm glad you boys decided to come downstairs.   It's time for supper.   I've just called Keith and Kerry to come over and join us."

We all washed our hands in the hall bathroom before sitting down at the dining room table.   Mrs. Campbell smiled, "I'm glad you remembered to wash your hands.   I always tell the General that he may be the General everywhere else but at the dinner table I am the Queen and I insist that everyone wash their hands before eating and that we observe proper etiquette at the table."

Keith and Kerry entered the dining room.  Diane was in her baby carrier asleep so they put her down beside the table where they could watch her.   They greeted us warmly.   Keith said, "We are glad you two made it home safely.   Egan has been driving us crazy since we arrived back home."

Kerry laughed, "Yes, you two are his very special friends and playmates according to Egan."

Rick grinned at Egan, "You bet we're his best friends and playmates.   Aren't we, Egan?"

Egan replied, "Yes, that is correct."

Mrs. Campbell said to Keith and Kerry, "I'll watch the little one while you two wash up."   They both smiled at Mrs. Campbell as they left the room.

Keith and Kerry returned shortly and the General said grace.   The meal was absolutely delicious!   There was very little conversation as we ate.

Egan finished first and said, "Mrs. Campbell, thank you.   You are the best cook ever!"

"Thank you, Egan.   I'm glad you liked your dinner tonight," Mrs. Campbell said beaming at the little guy.

Rick said, "Yes, Mrs. Campbell.   Your dinner was excellent.   Thank you for preparing it for us."

Mrs. Campbell said, "I'm happy to cook for such an appreciative group.   I've always loved cooking and I'm even happier when people like what I cook."

Kerry said, "Can I help you clean up in the kitchen?"

"Yes, dear.   Thank you for offering to help," Mrs. Campbell said gratefully.

We all helped clear the table and then we retired to the music room.   I took my place at the piano.   I asked, "Egan, what do you want me to play?"

Egan thought for moment, "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star."   He paused and then said, "You know, the special one you play for me."

"Okay," I replied.   I played the piece he requested which was the Mozart variations on a French folk song that we know as Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.   When I finished, Kerry and Mrs. Campbell joined us.

Mrs. Campbell asked, "Would you play Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue for me?"

The General spoke up, "Yes, that would be wonderful!"

I replied, "Sure."    When I finished, I received requests from the others to play their favorites.   It wasn't long before Mrs. Campbell said, "Rick and Glenn will you help me with the General?"

Rick stood up as he replied, "Of course, Mrs. Campbell."

Keith said, standing up from the couch where he sat with Kerry, "We need to get Egan and Diane to bed.   Thank you, Mrs. Campbell, for the wonderful dinner."   He looked over at us and said, "Guys, we'll see you in the morning."

Kerry came over and gave me and Rick a hug, "I'm glad you guys are back.   We've missed you."

Egan grabbed Keith's hand and said, "Daddy, don't forget that we are going boating tomorrow!"

Keith laughed, "Thank you Egan for reminding us.   I'm just as excited to go boating tomorrow as you are so I won't forget."

We saw them out the front door as we wheeled the General towards the elevator.   Mrs. Campbell followed us into the elevator.   As we ascended, Mrs. Campbell said, "Thank you so much for going with the General tomorrow.   He has wanted to go boating for a while now but was afraid to go without someone to help him.   I'm not strong enough to lift him so we always invite someone to go with us."

The elevator doors opened and we pushed the General into his room.   Rick and I helped change him into his pajamas and tucked him in.

"Do you need us to help you with anything else tonight?" Rick asked Mrs. Campbell.

"No, boys, you've helped me plenty tonight.   I plan to relax and read a little bit before going to bed.   Go enjoy yourselves and don't worry about me," Mrs. Campbell said smiling at us.

Rick took my hand and led me down the hall to our bedroom.   As soon as the door was closed, Rick said, as he pulled me into his arms, "I think we need to try out that Jacuzzi tub in our bathroom."

I kissed him before answering, "I think you're right."

Rick released me and went to fill the tub.   I stripped off my clothes and joined him in the bathroom.   Rick had turned off the light and had lit a couple of candles.  I asked in surprise, "Where did you find the candles?"

Rick grinned, "I found a note on the counter with the candles, a lighter and some bubble bath."

"Who wrote the note?" I asked wondering if it was Mrs. Campbell.

"It's from Kerry.   Here's the note," Rick said handing it to me.

The note read:   "To my best friends, Rick and Glenn.   Put these things to good use.   Love, Kerry."

"She must have come up here while we were in the music room because they weren't here earlier," I said.

Rick nodded his head in agreement, "You're right.   I'm glad we have such good friends."

"I couldn't agree more," I replied.   I walked back into our bedroom and retrieved my MP3 player and a small set of speakers and brought them in and set them on the counter next to the candles.

Rick nodded appreciatively, "Good idea, sweetheart."

I selected our favorite playlist of music for just such occasions and selected play all.   As the music started to play, Rick stood up and took me in his arms and started to slow dance with me while we waited for the tub to finish filling.   Rick added the bubble bath after the first song was finished and took me back in his arms to continue our dancing.

Soon the tub was full and Rick reached over and turned off the water and helped me climb into the tub.   He turned on the water jets before climbing in after me.   "We'll have to remember to thank Kerry," I said leaning back against Rick's chest.   

Rick wrapped his arms around me and kissed the back of my neck.   When he does that it really turns me on!   We spent the rest of the evening enjoying each other's company.

The next morning, I woke up before Rick.   As always, I slept with my head on his chest and his arms wrapped around me.   My thoughts returned to our evening together.   Who could have imagined that my husband was such a romantic?   He was even more excited than I was about the candles, the bubble bath and the music!   Our evening was perfect!   If this is what being married feels like, then I want at least another one hundred years of this!   Wow!   Awesome! And every other superlative comes to mind when I think of how wonderful it is being married to Rick!

As if sensing that I was awake, Rick opened his eyes and smiled at me.   "Good morning, Babe."

"Good morning," I said smiling back at my lover boy.

Rick said, "You seem very happy and content this morning.   In fact, you're positively glowing!"

"I AM very happy and content this morning because I'm married to the greatest lover in the world," I replied as I caressed his cheek with my hand.

Rick reached up and took my hand in his, "That's because I'm married to you Glenn.   You make me very happy."

Rick kissed me and pulled back to look me in the eyes, "Glenn, are you ready to start house hunting?"

I grinned, "Yes, I am.   However, I think we said we'd go boating today with the General."

Rick smiled, "I haven't forgotten.   I think we'll still have some time to go looking at houses."

"Then I'm ready to get started!" I replied enthusiastically.

"Good.   Let's get up and get dressed for our day," Rick said.   He climbed out of bed and pulled me to my feet.   He led me to the shower and adjusted the temperature before we stepped in together.

After we showered, we dressed each other and went downstairs.   We walked into the kitchen to find Mrs. Campbell already making breakfast.   She turned and greeted us, "Good morning boys.   The General will be down in a few minutes.   Have a seat and I'll bring you your breakfast."

Mrs. Campbell brought us plates heaping with eggs, sausages and pancakes.   Rick smiled appreciatively, "Thanks, Mrs. Campbell."

"You're welcome.   Here's the General now," she said nodding towards the kitchen doorway.

The General said, "Good morning.   Are we ready to go out on the boat today?"

Mrs. Campbell smiled patiently, "Yes, dear, we are.   I've packed a lunch and some other goodies to take along.   I called over to make sure Keith and Egan are up and about.   They will be along shortly."

The General smiled, "I love you, Mrs. Campbell.   You are so efficient!"

Mrs. Campbell gave the General a peck on the cheek and helped him get situated at the table before setting his plate in front of him.   We heard the front door open and heard Egan's excited chatter as Keith and Egan came towards the kitchen.

Egan said, "Daddy, I can't wait to go fishing from the boat.   The General said we could catch some really big ones once we're down the river towards the bay.   Will you help me with the fishing pole?"

"Yes, Egan, I'll help you with the fishing pole.   Are you hungry?" Keith asked.

Egan entered the kitchen and saw all of us at the table, "Yes, I'm hungry.   Mrs. Campbell, do you have any pancakes?"

Mrs. Campbell smiled at our little man, "Yes, Egan, I have your special pancakes right here with a cup of hot chocolate."   She sat his plate down next to me and pulled out the chair for him.

Egan looked up at Mrs. Campbell, "Thank you, Mrs. Campbell.   You're the best!"

Keith said gratefully, "Thank you, Mrs. Campbell."

Mrs. Campbell smiled, "You're welcome, Keith.   Egan make sure you don't spill any syrup on you nice clothes, dear."

Between mouthfuls, Egan said, "Yes, Mrs. Campbell."

Keith took his seat and Mrs. Campbell brought him a plate as well with a cup of coffee.

When we had all finished eating, the General said in his best military voice, "Let's go men!"

We pushed him outside to the garage and helped him into the Land Rover.   Rick drove us down to Tulley Gate on Fort Belvoir where we all had to show our identification and the car was inspected since we didn't have a Department of Defense (DoD) sticker on our car.

The General directed us to the marina where his sailboat was moored.   We helped him into his wheelchair and then pushed him down the pier to the boat.   We helped the General into the boat and secured him and his wheelchair where he could pilot the boat.

The General said, "You can stow our gear in the cabin."

We made several trips back to the Land Rover until we had everything Mrs. Campbell had prepared for us.

We finally had everything aboard.   The General said, "Okay, everyone has to have a life jacket on.   Rick, will you open the locker there and hand them out to everyone?"

Rick said, "Yes, sir!"

Rick handed everyone their life jacket.   Keith helped Egan with his and then put on his own.   Rick helped me with my life jacket making sure he stole a kiss in the process.

Egan saw Rick kiss me and said to his dad, "See, Rick is doing his job very well.   He's making Glenn happy."

Keith looked over at us and asked, "What did Rick do that made Glenn happy?"

Egan explained, "Rick kissed Glenn like you kiss Mommy.   Mommy says that you make her happy when you kiss her so Rick must make Glenn happy when he kisses him."

I smiled at Rick, "Yes, Egan, Rick makes me happy when he kisses me."

Keith laughed, "Egan, you are the most observant kid I know!"

Egan looked up at his dad and said, "Can we explore the rest of the sailboat?"

Keith looked over at the General, "Is that okay with you General?"

The General answered, "Sure, now that everyone has a life jacket on."

We followed Egan into the cabin.   The cabin was very nicely appointed.  The General started the motor and piloted the boat down Dogue Creek to the Potomac River.   He moved us out into the middle of the channel and increased speed as we headed downriver to the Chesapeake Bay.   The General gave us directions on how to raise the sails as neared the Occoquan River.   It wasn't long before we were under full sail.   The temperature is just right and there is just enough of a breeze to fill the sails.   Rick and I joined the General on deck while Keith and Egan played a game of Go Fish in the cabin.

The General smiled and asked, "Rick, have you gotten Glenn pregnant, yet?"

 Rick laughed as I blushed, "No, but I'm working on it.   I promised Glenn we would look for a surrogate as soon as we get settled into a new home."

The General looked at me, "Have you decided how many children you want to have?"

 "We've decided that we want at least two," I said.

Rick said, "I have contacted a couple of different fertility clinics about finding a surrogate to help us.   However, I'm not completely comfortable with depending on the good will of a total stranger to help us have children."

Keith, who had come out on deck, said, "Have you thought of asking Kerry if she would be your surrogate?"

Rick looked at Keith in surprise and said, "No, we haven't."

"Are you sure you would be okay with that Keith?" I asked the concern showing in my voice.

Keith smiled, "I'm okay with Kerry being a surrogate for you two but no one else.  Of course, it will really be up to Kerry."

Rick looked at me and said, "We'll have to discuss it between ourselves first."

"Kerry just had Diane so she needs some time to recover from that pregnancy before she could consider having another baby," I said.

Keith smiled, "Yes, Kerry will need some more recovery time.   We love you both very much so don't discount us when you start seriously looking for a surrogate.

Rick said, "Thank you, Keith."   Rick gave Keith a quick hug.

The General looked at me and said, "You need to keep an eye on them, Glenn."

"I don't have to worry about my cousin, General.   Keith is very happily married and I totally trust Rick," I said smiling at my lover boy.

Rick put his arms around me, "General, I'm totally committed to Glenn.   Admittedly, Keith is very handsome and attractive since Glenn and Keith could pass for identical twins.   However, Glenn is the one I love."

The General nodded his head, "I'm glad to hear it, Rick.   I've noticed how close you and Keith are and that set me to thinking I should say something to Glenn."

Keith said, "Thank you for looking out for my cousin, General.   I love Glenn and Rick too much to cause injury to either one by trying to interfere in their relationship.   We've been neighbors for nearly six years now.   Kerry and I lived downstairs from them in Atlanta."

Rick said, "Speaking of being neighbors, when are we going house hunting?"

Keith replied, "As soon as we return from our sailing."

Egan climbed up the ladder from the cabin, "Daddy, when can we start fishing?"

Keith smiled at this son, "As soon as the General says it's okay."

Egan walked over to the General who said, "Yes, Egan we can start fishing as soon as we lower the sails."

The General directed us during the entire operation of lowering the sails.   Soon the sailboat was at anchor and five fishing poles had been put into service.   It wasn't long before Egan's pole started to jump.  

Egan yelled, "Daddy, I've got one!"

Luckily, Keith was standing next to him because in all the excitement Egan let go of the fishing pole.   Keith grabbed it and then placed it back in Egan's eager hands and helped him reel in the fish.   Rick grabbed the fish net and got ready to scoop up the fish as soon as it came close to the boat.   Pretty soon the fish broke the surface and Rick reached down and neatly netted the fish and brought it aboard.

Keith said, "Egan, look at that fish!   It's huge!"

Indeed, it was a pretty good sized fish.   The General said, "It's looks like it's a large-mouthed bass.   Here's a tape measure so we can make sure it's legal size."

Keith and Egan measured it.   Egan exclaimed, "It's 16 inches long General!   Can we keep it?"

"Yes, Egan, we can keep it.   Put it in the cooler next to me," the General said pointing to the ice chest on floor next to his wheelchair.

Egan, assisted by his father, placed the fish in the ice chest.   When the fish started flopping around on the ice, Egan jumped back in fright yelling, "It's still alive!"

Rick laughed, "Yes, Egan, it's still alive but it won't hurt you."

Egan, his eyes squinted, looked at Rick to verify that it really wouldn't hurt him, "Are you sure?"

Keith replied, "Yes, son, Rick is correct.   It won't hurt you.  Do you want to touch it?"

Egan shook his head vigorously, "No, Daddy."

He backed away from the ice chest and Keith closed the lid.   We all returned to our fishing poles.   We caught several more fish before the General had us hoist the sails, again, and we started back up river towards the marina.

Egan was so happy about catching his big fish that we practically had to weight him down to keep him from floating off the boat!

The General asked, "Egan, do you want to learn how to pilot the boat?"

Egan's eyes grew as big as saucers, "Can I?"

The General laughed, "Of course you can or I wouldn't have asked you.   Come over here and climb up on my lap and I'll show you how."

Egan quickly scampered over to the General and climbed aboard the wheelchair.   The General patiently showed Egan the controls and then turned it over to him to pilot the boat.

Rick and I climbed down the ladder into the cabin and joined Keith who was sitting at the little table.

"Where do you want to start looking for houses?" Keith asked Rick.

Rick answered, "I liked the Crystal City area in Arlington."

Keith responded, "We did, too.   What do you think Glenn?"

"I liked Crystal City but I'm a little concerned about Virginia's laws regarding gay rights.   I don't want to live where I'm considered a second class citizen.   There are too many self-righteous people who think that gays shouldn't be allowed to raise children.   They are afraid that we will pervert them from birth by pushing them into being gay because we are gay."

Keith nodded his head, "I understand your position on that subject but you also need to consider where your children will go to school.   Kerry and I have looked into the schools in Washington, DC, as well as in surrounding areas."

Rick looked at Keith, curiosity showing on his face, "What did you find out?"

"Fairfax County in Virginia and Montgomery County in Maryland have the two best school systems in the area," Keith said.   "Kerry wants us to look in those two areas.   We've heard some of the schools in Arlington County, Virginia, are okay but others are not so good so we need to be careful where we decide to buy or build our home."

"I agree we need to be very selective about the schools our kids will be attending," I said looking at my husband to see his reaction.

Rick nodded, "Yes, we definitely need to be careful about not only the schools but the neighborhood.   I don't want to fear for my life every time I leave my home."

Keith said, "Dad warned us to be very careful about that since many of the areas around here vary widely; some of them almost from block to block given the redevelopment efforts each jurisdiction has implemented to turn blighted areas into thriving neighborhoods."

I asked, "So who can we trust to tell us the truth about the neighborhoods where we are looking to buy a home?"

Rick replied, "Maybe the General can help us out there."

"Or Mrs. Campbell," Keith said.

Rick said, "Let's talk to both of them when we return to the house."

Keith and I agreed.   I turned to look out the cabin window and realized that we were drawing close to Dogue Creek.   "We're almost back to the marina."

I climbed back up the ladder and stood next to the General as he helped Egan steer the boat up Dogue Creek and into the slip where Rick and I jumped out on the dock to secure the boat."

The General said, "Great job, Egan!   You'll make a great sea captain!"

Egan was beaming at the General's praises.   "Thank you for helping me.   You're the best!"

Keith picked Egan up and gave him a hug, "You did very well, Egan.   I'm very proud of you."

Egan gave his dad a hug and a quick kiss on the cheek.   "Thank you, Daddy.   I love you."

Keith put Egan down on the deck and we all pitched in to haul everything we had brought with us back to the car.  The General gave us directions on how to stow all the gear onboard the boat and to lock up the cabin, etc.   We lifted him out of the boat and wheeled him back to the car.

On our way back to the house, the General said, "Thank you for going boating with me.   It's wonderful to be able to have a day out with the guys every once in a while."

Rick replied, "You're welcome, General."   Rick paused for a moment before asking, "General, can you and Mrs. Campbell tell us which schools and neighborhoods are good ones and which ones are not?"

The General looked at Rick, "Yes, we can tell about some of the areas and for those we are unfamiliar with, we can find someone who is."

I said, "Thank you.   We are very concerned about moving into a good neighborhood with good schools."

The General looked closely at me before saying with a smile on his face, "Are you trying to tell me that you and Rick are about to become parents?"

Before I could respond, Rick answered, "Yes, General, we plan to either adopt a child or find a surrogate to help us have a child."

The General nodded his head approvingly, "Good.   I'm glad to see that you two are going to settle down and start a family."

We pulled into the driveway and unloaded the car.   We took the fish out to the backyard to clean them.   Egan watched with pride as Rick made short work of cleaning his fish.

Rick turned on the hose and washed the fish out and then rinsed his hands off.   "Egan, can you ask Mrs. Campbell for a plastic bag for the fish?"

Egan replied, "Yes.   I'll be right back."   Egan went skipping towards the back door and opened it and soon returned with a plastic bag for the fish.

Rick gave Egan the bag of fish to give to Mrs. Campbell, "Egan, this one on top is the fish you caught.   Be sure to tell her that it's a special one."

Egan nodded his head and said, "Thank you for cleaning the fish.   I can't wait to see how it tastes.   Mrs. Campbell said we will have fish for supper tonight."

Egan turned and carried the fish back into the house.   Rick washed up the fillet knife and placed the fish heads, etc., in a plastic bag and put them in the garbage can.   We followed Egan into the house.  

Egan was in the kitchen with Mrs. Campbell, "Can I help you cook the fish, Mrs. Campbell?"  

Mrs. Campbell looked up at us as we entered the kitchen.   "Yes, Egan, I think that you, Rick and Glenn can help me cook the fish today."

We followed her directions as we prepared the fish and put them in the oven to bake.   When we finished, Egan said, "I'm going home to tell my Mom that we're eating my fish for lunch today."

"Okay, sweetheart," Mrs. Campbell said.   She picked up the phone and gave Kerry a quick call to let her know that Egan was on his way over.   Rick and I watched Egan run across the yard and into the house.

We went up to our room to relax until lunch was ready.   Rick pulled me onto our bed and wrapped his arms around me.   "What do you think about asking Kerry to be our surrogate?"

I replied, "I love Kerry very much but I'm hesitant to ask her because I'm not sure how the dynamics would work with us being so close to Keith and Kerry.   How would we handle telling our children that she is their Mom and that Egan and Diane are their half brother and sister?"

Rick thought for a minute, "We'd tell them the truth.   I think it would be okay."

I continued, "How do we handle disciplinary issues when they tell us they want to go with their mother or when she steps in because she is their mother?"

Rick said, "I think that we would have to clearly spell out everything in the adoption papers."

"How do you plan to enforce the rules of the adoption when we are such good friends with Keith and Kerry?   I think it would tear us apart, Rick.   There is no good way to tell them to stay out of our business with regards to raising our children without offending them especially if she's their birth mother.   I, for one, don't want to lose their friendship.   It would be better to find a neutral third party to be our surrogate than put ourselves in very bad situation," I paused to gauge Rick's reaction to my words.   I looked him in the eyes and he nodded his head.   I continued, "Remember that we have planned to be Keith and Kerry's neighbors unless you've changed your mind about that?"

Rick said, "No, I haven't decided to do anything other than what we've already talked about.   You do bring up some valid points about asking Kerry to be our surrogate.   I agree with you that we should look elsewhere."

"I'm trying to keep my promise to you by not worrying about who will be our surrogate," I said caressing Rick's chest.

Rick smiled at me, "I know you've been pretty good about it thus far.   I will keep working things out so we have the perfect surrogate to help us start our family.   Of course, we'll talk over things before we move forward."

A few weeks later Rick was sitting in the front room of the Campbell's home as he waited for Glenn to come downstairs.   His thoughts kept returning to the conversation they had about Kerry being their surrogate.   He had looked into finding someone but wasn't happy with their options.   He had contacted several fertility clinics that advertised that they specialized in helping gay couples.   He found one in New York City that provided a full service program for gay couples that seemed to meet their needs.   However, there was still the issue of who should be a surrogate mother for their child.   Rick thought to himself, "Maybe Mom Nielsen will have some ideas."

Rick pulled out his cell phone and called Mom Nielsen.   "Hi Mom!   Can you talk for a minute?" Rick asked.

"Hello, Rick.   Of course I have a few minutes.   What's going on?"  Eva asked wondering why her son-in-law was calling her.

"Glenn and I have been trying to decide who we should get to be a surrogate mother for our child.   I suggested Kerry but Glenn rightly pointed out the potential for problems with that idea.   So I have been researching the internet and making phone calls to different fertility clinics that specialize in helping gay couples.   I haven't been happy with any of their suggestions despite their assurances that they would take care of all the legal aspects and that they carefully screen their surrogate mothers.   Do you have any ideas about what we should do?"

There was a silence on the other end of the line while Eva carefully weighed her words before she responded, "Rick, I think that you and Glenn should carefully consider who you decide to ask to be a surrogate mother for your children.   I don't know what Glenn's objections were to Kerry but they must have been valid ones for you both to agree that you wouldn't ask Kerry to help you.   I know that she would do it because she loves you both."

"You're right Mom.   Kerry would do it for us but Glenn and I are worried about how she would react to how we parent our children since we are so close to Keith and Kerry," Rick said.

Eva thought for a moment, "I hadn't thought about that aspect of the situation.   You could ask Nancy to be your surrogate but that would mean you would have to be the father of the child since Glenn and Nancy are siblings.   There is one drawback there also in that her current boyfriend probably wouldn't agree to let her be your surrogate."

Rick replied, "I'd thought about asking Nancy as well.   I'm glad you told me about her boyfriend.   We knew she had met someone recently but we don't know him."

Eva sighed, "Yes, she did meet someone.   Your Dad and I aren't thrilled with her choice.   He's a nice young man but he and Nancy don't seem to really be right for each other.   We haven't said anything to Nancy about it.   She's a grown woman now and has to decide for herself what is best for her."

Rick said, "Thanks for listening Mom.   If things change with Nancy, please let me know because I do think that she would be the best person to be our surrogate mother.   In the meantime, we will keep looking."

"Rick, I'm sorry I couldn't be of more help to you," Eva said sincerely.

"No worries, Mom.   I'll talk to you later," Rick said.

"Give Glenn all my love," Eva said.

"I will.   Good-bye Mom," Rick said.

"Good-bye Son," Eva replied.

Rick looked up to see Glenn entering the room as he returned his cell phone to his pocket.

Rick smiled at his lover boy, "Hey, handsome, can I invite you to dinner?"

I grinned, "Why, sir, I would be honored to accompany you to dinner.   Where are we going?"

"I was thinking of Rasika in DC.   Are you up for Indian food tonight?" Rick asked.

I responded, "Sounds wonderful!   Let's go!"

Rick stood up and gave me a quick kiss and took me by the hand and led me out to his red Corvette and drove us to the District of Columbia for dinner and then we went out clubbing in Dupont Circle.   We had a nice time.  

As we returned home, I said, "Thank you for the wonderful evening, Rick."

Rick grinned at me and said, "You are most welcome."   He took my hand and lifted to his lips and gave it a kiss just as the light turned green.

He turned his attention back to driving as he said, "I love you very much, Glenn."

"Ditto," I replied as I relaxed and thought about what I hoped would be a perfect ending to our romantic night out.

Eight months flew by as we found a couple of homes on adjoining lots in south Arlington County.   In fact, we bought 4 lots and demolished the homes on them and built two homes on the four lots.   The day we moved into our new homes, Rick pulled me into his arms and announced, "I've found the perfect surrogate for us."  

"Who is it?" I asked curiously looking up at Rick.

"Your sister, Nancy," Rick said grinning from ear to ear.

I was totally surprised.   I had never even considered that my sister would be willing to have our child.  "Are you sure?" I said incredulously.

"Yes, I'm sure.   Nancy has already agreed to donate her own eggs for our attempt to get pregnant," Rick said looking me in the eyes.   "Are you okay with Nancy doing this for us?"

"Yes, I am.   I think Nancy is perfect especially since we have already agreed that you will be the father of our children," I said kissing my lover boy.   He knows me so well.   

Rick grinned, "This way you will be the children's uncle as well as their guardian.   I think this is the best solution for us."

"I agree.   I'm so excited.   When do we begin the process?" I asked.

"Next week.   We will meet Nancy in New York.   That means no sex for the next week!   Do you think you can make it that long?" Rick asked teasing me as he nuzzled my neck.

I grinned, "It's not me who has such a hard time abstaining from sex, my dear husband!"

Rick laughed, "You are so right.   Since we've been married, it seems I can't get enough of you.  However, I think that I can wait a week this time because we are going to celebrate big time as soon as I've done my job of getting you pregnant!"

Rick kissed me and then pulled back to look me in the eyes, "Glenn Lernier, you are soon going to be a parent!"

"Thank you, Rick.   I'm glad you want children as much as I do."

The week flew by and soon we were climbing into the Land Rover and driving up Interstate 95 towards New York City.   During the five hour drive, I could talk about nothing else but the upcoming procedure.   Unbeknownst to me, Nancy had already been seeing the doctors at the clinic to make preparations for this stage of our adventure in getting pregnant.

We pulled into the parking lot of the clinic and went inside.   Rick introduced me to Dr. Gothari, "Dr. Gothari, this is my spouse, Glenn Lernier."

I reached out and shook his hand, "Good to meet you Mr. Lernier.   May I call you Glenn?"

"Certainly, Dr. Gothari.   I'm happy to meet you," I said.

"You sister, Nancy, is ready to start.   Rick if you will follow the nurse I will take Glenn back to see his sister," Dr. Gothari said leading me down the hall.

I entered the room and saw Nancy on the bed with a sheet draped over her.   I walked over to her and leaned down and gave her a kiss on the cheek.   "Thank you so much for doing this for us," I said looking her in the eyes.

Nancy smiled, "I'm glad Rick asked me.   He told me that you would never ask anyone in your family to be a surrogate mother for you two so I'm glad he didn't let you talk him out of it."

"He didn't really give me a choice, Nancy.   He told me a week ago that you had already agreed to do this for us," I replied.

Seeing the look on my face, Nancy laughed, "Your Rick is a brilliant man!   He really has learned how to take care of you.   I just wish I could find someone like that for me."

"What happened to Gary?   I thought that things were going well between you two," I said in surprise.

Nancy's eyes were bright with tears, "I thought so, too, but I caught Gary having sex with one of my friends a few weeks ago and that's what ended our relationship.   So when Rick called me about being a surrogate for you, I said "yes" and agreed to stay with you until the baby is born."

"I'm glad you'll be staying with us.   Have you decided what you want to do while you're in Washington, DC?" I asked.

"The hospital where I work has given me a leave of absence to participate in some research projects in microbiology at Georgetown University.   I've talked to a couple of the professors there and I'm really excited to be working with them," Nancy responded with enthusiasm.   "Rick's phone call came at the right moment when I needed to make a change in my life."

"Are you really sure you want to do this for us?" I asked looking Nancy in the eyes.

Nancy smiled at me, "Glenn, stop worrying about me.   You know that I wouldn't do this if I weren't totally committed to doing it.   Having a baby is no walk in the park, believe me.   I've worked in the maternity ward at the hospital for a number of years so I've seen the pain and agony those women have gone through and I've seen the joy in their faces when I've placed their newborn child in their arms."   Nancy took my hand and continued, "Glenn, I know what I'm doing and I want to do this for you and Rick."

I smiled at Nancy as I wiped the tears from eyes, "Thank you, Nancy.   You don't know how much it means to me that you are willing to help us."

Nancy shook her head in disagreement, "Yes, I do know how much it means to you and Rick.   That is the reason why I'm willing to help you."

Rick and Dr. Gothari returned to the room.   Rick grinned and gave me the thumbs up sign.   Dr. Gothari smiled and asked, "Nancy, are you ready?"

"Yes, I'm ready," she replied.

Dr. Gothari turned to us and said, "You two are welcome to stay if that is okay with Nancy."

Nancy nodded her head in the affirmative, "Yes, I want them to stay with me."

Rick walked over and put his arm around me, "Are you ready, Glenn?"

"Yes, I'm ready," I replied smiling at my sister.   Dr. Gothari indicated where we should stand.   It wasn't long before we were walking out of the clinic with Nancy.

Rick asked, "How do you feel?"

Nancy replied, "I'm fine, Rick.   Don't worry about me.   Let's go exploring the city."

I agreed, "Yes, let's go enjoy the sights and sounds of New York City.   We have tickets for a show tonight and reservations for dinner at 5 PM."

We attended birthing classes with Nancy and learned many more things about the different stages of a pregnancy as the months passed.   We picked up a couple of really good reference books that we read together with Nancy.   We especially paid attention to everything we found about raising twins.   Nancy had a sonogram at 18 weeks that showed the two fetuses were developing normally.   Dr. Gothari required a sonogram about every four to six weeks to monitor the progress of the twins.   The time arrived for the delivery of the twins.   Dr. Gothari had us dress in scrubs and wear masks and gloves on our hands and invited us into Nancy's room to witness the delivery of our twins.

As we watched, the first of the twins was delivered.   Dr. Gothari handed the baby boy to the nurse to hold as he clamped off the umbilical cord and handed Rick a pair of scissors to cut it.   I watched as Rick nervously cut the umbilical cord.   Rick looked at me and grinned as we watched the nurse wipe down the newborn who was screaming at the top of his lungs.  

I observed, "He's not very happy about being out in the cold."

Rick laughed, "You wouldn't be either if you had been forced out of a very comfortable, warm environment into the cold, cruel world."

Dr. Gothari interrupted our conversation, "Here comes the second one."

A few minutes later the second little boy was delivered.   As with the first one, Dr. Gothari handed the newborn to the waiting nurse then he clamped off the umbilical cord and handed a clean pair of scissors to Rick and indicated that he should cut the umbilical cord.

This time, Rick knew exactly what to do and cut the cord without any hesitation.   The newborn began crying just like his twin brother as he was being weighed and cleaned up before being wrapped in a receiving blanket and placed in his mother's arms.

Dr. Gothari said, "Congratulations!   You have two very healthy baby boys!"

Rick said, "Thank you for helping us Dr. Gothari."

I repeated Rick's sentiments, "Yes, thank you so much."

Both of us turned to Nancy who was smiling at the two newborns in her arms.   "Come hold your boys," Nancy said.

Rick retrieved the oldest one and I picked up the younger one.   As Rick gazed into the newborn's face, he said, "I think you must be Jared James."

I smiled looking at the baby boy I held in my arms, "Then you must be Joshua Glenn."

Nancy said, "Those are beautiful names.   I like them.   Jared James Nielsen Lernier and Joshua Glenn Nielsen Lernier."

One of the nurses snapped a couple of photos of us holding the babies and a few more with Nancy holding her twin sons.

The nurses retrieved the newborns and took them to the nursery to be examined and watched over while Nancy was moved to a private room to recover.   After she was settled, we joined her in her room.   Mom and Dad were already there.

Mom said, "Congratulations boys!   I'm so happy for you."

Dad shook our hands, "Yes, congratulations to all of you!   Nancy, I am especially proud of you.   You have given us two beautiful new grandsons."

Dad's face showed how happy he was.   Mom took his hand, "Yes, we are very happy for you Nancy."  

They walked over to Nancy's bedside and each leaned over and kissed Nancy on the cheek.

Nancy smiled, "Thank you Mom and Dad for being here for me today."

Rick and I followed Mom and Dad's example and kissed Nancy on the cheek.  Rick said, "Thank you Nancy for all you have done for us.   We love you very much."

Nancy replied, "I love you as well Rick."

Mom said, "Come with us boys.   We need to let Nancy rest.   Why don't you join us for lunch and then we can return after Nancy has had some time to recover?"

We nodded our agreement and we bid Nancy good-bye for the moment.   The rest of the week was a blur as we spent most of our time at the hospital either with Nancy in her room or in the nursery holding the boys.   By the end of the week, Dr. Gothari declared that Nancy was ready to be released.   The boys' pediatrician declared them fit to go home as well.   We had finished all of the paperwork the day before to complete the adoption process.   Of course, Rick was their natural father but I needed to go through the legal process of adopting the boys as my sons. 

We caravanned back to Virginia.   We arrived back home and had just settled Nancy and the boys in their rooms when we heard the doorbell ring.   I ran down the stairs to see who it was.  I opened the door and found a very excited Egan waiting to be let in.   I looked across the yard to see Keith and Kerry carrying Diane making their way to our house.

I looked at Egan who asked eagerly, "Can I see the new babies?"

"Yes, Egan, you may see the new babies.   Go right up the stairs.   They are in Nancy's room," I replied.

I waited at the door and invited Keith and Kerry inside, "Come on upstairs to see the twins."

Keith said, "Congratulations Glenn!"

Kerry added, "I'm so happy for you and Rick."

"Thank you.   I'm very excited to be a parent.   Rick's work has given him a couple of weeks off to help get the twins settled into their new home," I said.

Kerry said, "That's wonderful.   I know it really helped me to have Keith at home during those first few weeks after Diane was born."

I stood in the doorway of Nancy's room as watched as everyone talked with Nancy and took turns holding the twins.   Rick had brought in extra chairs so everyone could sit down.   The scene will be forever engraved on my memory:  Mom, Dad, Keith, Kerry, and Egan surrounding Nancy's bed talking excitedly while each one took a turn holding the babies.  

Rick joined me in the doorway.   "We have a wonderful family."   He put his arms around me from behind and I leaned back against him.

"Yes, we do have a wonderful family," I said.

Prev To be continued . . .

A Note from Russ:

Link to video of Dogue Creek and Fort Belvoir Marina: